The suspicion that cancer of the mouth is somehow associated with the use of tobacco goes as far back as 1739 AD. In the nineteenth century, several cases of cancer of the mouth were reported in which chewing of tobacco was incriminated.
Cancer of the prostate in men and of the breast in women can be greatly relieved by the removal of the testes and ovaries, respectively, in these patients, or by the removal of adrenal glands which are a secondary source of sex hormones in both sexes. Besides this, administration of counter-hormones (estrogens in males and androgens in females) in such cases also effects a marked improvement.
Many cancers in animals, plants and birds have been recognized to be caused by viruses. Currently, it is being convincingly stated that leukaemia and Hodgkin’s disease— i.e. a malignant disease of lymphatic tissue—are associated with some kind of virus.
During the nineteenth century, among the mine workers of the Schneeberg and Jachymov mines, now in Czechoslovakia, cases of lung cancer were detected in greater frequency than in the surrounding areas. It was later found out that these mines contained various radioactive substances which were the cause of cancer.
Early detection of cancer is vital to its successful treatment. In order to do so, there are some symptoms and some risk factors which if present in a patient should arouse the suspicion of the disease. He should then consult urgently his physician or a specialist. The symptoms and risk factors are as follows:
Transformation of normal cells into cancer cells in the body, is not a rare event. But the body’s defence or immunologic cells—lymphocytes and macrophages—at once recognise these abnormal cells and kill them before they get divided and subdivided into many more.
Among the genetic and personal factors age, sex, race, marital status, etc. have much to do about the prevalence of cancer.
The prevalence of cancer increases with age. Man is particularly vulnerable after the age of 50. It is not certain whether this is due to a) the changes in the body due to the ageing process, b) a long incubation period of cancer or c) long exposure to a carcinogen or cancer causing substance.
In order to find out whether a person is suffering from cancer or not, one may not have to go to the doctor for investigations. The doctor may proceed as follows:
Smoking: Those who have been smoking for more than 20 years.
Tobacco Chewing: Those who have been chewing tobacco for more than 15 years.
Industrial/Vehicular Pollution: Those who are over-exposed to vehicular pollution or working or staying around industrial townships/areas.
Urine passed into a clean vessel is suitable for routine urine testing. Special me hods of collection designed to reduce contamination are desirable for microscopic examination, and essential for bacteriological examination. The urine should be examined physically, chemically, microscopically and bacteriologically.